Meet the EHF Fellows: Nathaniel Calhoun

Meet the EHF Fellows: Nathaniel Calhoun


(audience applaud) – Tena koutou, tena
koutou, tena koutou, katoa. My wife got to say all the
coolest stuff about what we do, and I’m super proud of all
three of those projects. I’m really happy to discuss and engage with all of you around those projects. But the role that I’m
playing in describing some of our background and expertise is a little bit more general, saying… Okay, those are some of the examples of what we’re doing, and
they do keep us busy. But we have our eyes open
for other opportunities to leverage the experience
and the networks that we’ve been cultivating
for change-makers here in the New Zealand ecosystem. So, to give you a little
bit more perspective about that background and experience, as Elie mentioned, we spent a considerable amount of time living
in Sub-Saharan Africa. She grew up there in large part, with a bit of time in North Africa, and together, we spent time
in Liberia for a while, Senegal, and then, our
projects have been implemented, and now, well over a dozen
Sub-Saharan African countries with a whole host, well over a dozen, major, international INGOs: folks like UNICEF or CARE
or Tearfund or World Vision. And just in the way that
the New Zealand government is starting to break
some of the stereotypes about the relevance of government or the speed of operating of government, there is a total sea
change amidst these INGOs that have kind of a tired, old reputation for, may be, manipulating you emotionally at night with an advertisement, right? Or having a bureaucracy or spending too much money on their cars, right? There’s a bit of a blot on the reputation of the sector. But just as government
is being shaken up here, and indeed, just as the kind of tax-savvy, fired up people are
changing every industry, there is a lot of change
happening in that sector. And I wanna land on those,
the digital development principles that Elie pointed out: our probably the coolest disruptive hack on a giant bureaucratic
system that I’ve ever seen. What they’ve done is, they
created all this momentum, that all these organizations
signed up and said: “We’re signatories of these principles.” So whether it’s the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, whether it’s pretty much
every UN organization, whether it’s USA aid, UK
aid, they’re all saying: “These are ours.” What that means is, if you go
for one of their contracts, and you are open-source,
and you’re collaborative, and you’re working with people and you’re working in
this progressive new way, you’re gonna get a contract that you never would’ve gotten five years ago. That was all locked up
in giant consulting firms that are sometimes publicly traded; have the belt way bent. That was their show and
you couldn’t get in. I know, ’cause I was
trying to get into that, for with this scrappy
little company of ours for five, six years, and
it was just table scraps. And it’s just been opened
up, and a lot of the times, the organizations don’t even
know they’ve signed them. Huge portions of their workforce; ’cause they’ll be in a 150 countries. They’ll have tens of
thousands of employees. And they don’t even know that these are the new operating protocols, under which they need to work. So, taking advantage of that now, if you’re a principled change-maker, if what you’re trying to
do is build the commands, if you’re trying to
incorporate people of the land and work from that principle’s
value-driven place, it is a really amazing opportunity. And it’s one that we’re
super well-networked into these organizations,
to the specific people who almost tricked them into
signing up to these things. And I would love to help folks that are, you know, working on… You’re gonna hear from other fellows who are working on things that help people to make collaborative decisions together. But not just kind of
soft ones, that are like: “What’s for dinner tonight?” But like, “how are we gonna spend our shared bounty of money? How are we gonna make decisions that impact our prosperity
and our health?” There are new programs that
you’re gonna hear about, that belong on the world
stage, and quickly. Some of the innovation that New Zealand’s already got on top of, in terms
of giving legal personhood to different natural
bodies, is transformational. And with the country behind it, and the EWI behind it, it
is something that could quickly ripple out through international aid and development. And the benefit of going
through these organizations is that if you get into their DNA, you can scale into a 150 countries. And there’s only a handful
of brands that do that. Maybe Coca Cola, right? Make that like one or two
that have this supply chance. But if you can work with these systems, you don’t have to necessarily have… You don’t have to own the solution. The idea is, if you’re
willing to share the solution, to let people start copy-pasting
the solution around, they will put their networks
at your disposal, right? And they will let you use
the change-making apparatus that they’ve been building,
for a very long time. So I’m super keen to help people, to make some of those connections. And overwhelmingly, my passion
and focus is on Africa. And I feel very heart-connected there, and I love that continent,
specifically like West Africa, I can get very detailed about where I love and why I love it. I’d love to share that with you, but I also wanna share just some colder, rational arguments for why I think it belongs on your radar. We know that by the time we reach 2100, we’ve got four billion
more people on the Earth. Three billion of them are
going to be in Africa. The other billion are kind of distributed a little bit around like China, India… There’s no other major demographic shift that’s about to happen. But we know that three billion people will be added on that continent. Demographers predict very accurately. That’s baked in. But we haven’t really handled
growth so well globally. It’s not something
we’re awesome at, right? Inequality’s been getting
way out of control, our ecosystems are out of control, urban planning is a joke in many of the big, fast growing cities. There’s like dozens of cities with over a million people in Nigeria, and I bet you’ve heard of two of them. Probably, some of you may
have heard of one, right? These are, they’re just
piling in with people. So systems-thinkers,
values-driven people like this, it is an opportunity to
get in and participate in that development,
with the kind of approach that I’m hearing here at EHF. Because the other approach is just the cynical land grabbing,
and that’s happening too. There’s a lot of that, right? And it’s not sustainable. It doesn’t lead to stable places, when you go on land grabbing
and that sort of approach. So there’s a tremendous opportunity to keep in mind, there’re
so many little hotbeds, of potential innovation over there. And I’d love to help
connect people up to them. So, kia ora. (audience applaud) (engaging music)

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